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ICC Pre Trial Chamber II confirms charges against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona (CAR II Investigation)

Image Credit: ICC
Coalition for the ICC
Regions: 
Africa
Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) partially confirm charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Mr. Alfred Yekatom and Mr. Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona in the territory of the Central African Republic (CAR), and send case to trial.

On 11 December 2019, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II (PTC II) partially confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Mr. Yekatom and Mr. Ngaïssona, and committed them to trial before a Trial Chamber. Some of the charges brought forward were not confirmed by PTC II, as they were found to be not supported by the evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s office.

“The CAR National Coalition for the ICC calls on the ICC to take all necessary measures to ensure victims and witnesses are effectively protected, to allow their participation in the proceedings and provide an opportunity for truth-telling,” stated Mr. Bruno Hyacinthe GBIEGBA, Lawyer and Deputy Coordinator of the CAR National Coalition for the ICC.

The ICC Judges also concluded that between September 2013 and December 2014, an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing in CAR between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka armed groups. Mr. Yekatom and Mr. Ngaïssona are accused of being involved in a widespread attack against the Muslim civilian population as a part of the Anti-Balaka during this period of time.  

“Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) welcomes the confirmation of charges against Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona. Among the confirmed charges is rape and attempted rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity, the only sexual violence crimes charged in this case,” stated Ms. Melinda Reed, Executive Director of WIGJ.

“While noting that the inclusion of charges of all forms of sexual violence is important for recognition of its victims and survivors, WIGJ is confident that the trial against the two suspects will continue to build the ICC jurisprudence on sexual and gender-based violence,” Ms. Reed continued.

This decision comes after oral and written submissions were presented to the Chamber by the Prosecutor and the Defence during the confirmation of charges hearings held from 19 September to 11 October 2019. The decision does not establish the guilt of Mr. Yekatom or Mr. Ngaïssona, but instead serves only to determine whether the Prosecutor’s case should proceed to trial, before a Trial Chamber.  

The Defence and the Prosecutor may request authorization to appeal the ICC PTC II decision confirming the charges once the decision’s translation into French is notified.

Background

The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) was referred to the ICC Prosecutor on 30 May 2004, by the CAR authorities. An investigation was opened in May 2007, focusing on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of a conflict in CAR since 1 July 2002, with the peak of violence in 2002 and 2003.

On 30 May 2014, CAR referred the situation in its territory since 1 August 2012 to the ICC.

On 24 September 2014, the Prosecutor opened a second investigation in CAR (CAR II) regarding alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of renewed violence starting in 2012 in CAR.

On 11 November 2019, ICC judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Yekatom-unsealed on 17 November 2018, and he was surrendered to the ICC on 17 November 2018. On 7 December 2018, ICC judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Ngaïssona. He was arrested by the French authorities on 12 December 2018 and transferred to the ICC on 23 January 2019. Since then, they have been under custody at the ICC detention centre.

On 20 February 2019, PTC II joined the two cases. The confirmation of charges hearing took place from 19 to 25 September 2019 and on 11 October 2019

On 11 December 2019, charges against Mr. Yekatom and Mr. Ngaïssona were partially confirmed by the ICC PTC II.

Know more

Read here the ICC Q&A on the Decision on the Confirmation of charges in the Yekatom and Ngaïssona case, 11 December 2019.

Read the complete statement of the Central African Coalition for the ICC

HRW: A Moment for Justice in the Central African Republic

FIDH: Ngaïssona et Yekatom renvoyés en procès devant la CPI : deux acteurs importants de la crise centrafricaine en voie d’être jugés